Saturday, June 28, 2008


Jenna knows there was an accident. She knows she almost didn't survive. She knows she has been in a coma for the past year. But the only reason Jenna knows these things is because her parents told her, otherwise she has no memory of anything.

Life is beginning to unfold around Jenna. She and her mother and grandmother moved to California where the climate is warmer and supposedly better for her recovery. Her father still works in Boston and is only able to visit occasionally. Once again, she knows this only because she's been told the information. Another source of information are the disks she watches endlessly. Each one is a record of her life, and her mother's hope is that they will help trigger Jenna's memory. So far, Jenna has enjoyed the disk from year seven the best and watches it over and over.

Memories do start returning, but along with them are odd sensations. There is the feeling that she is hearing her old best friends from Boston. Sometimes their voices sound so real, like they are right beside her. There is also the feeling that people are not being entirely truthful with her. After meeting a neighbor, Mr. Bender, Jenna questions just exactly how long they have lived in this new house. When she starts to ask questions of her mother and grandmother, the answers she gets don't seem to fit together well, causing an unfamiliar sense of rebellion to creep into what she remembers as her normal desire to please.

Jenna insists on attending school which opens up her world. Her parents' choice is a small alternative school with tiny classes and students from some unusual situations. This exposure to others her age encourages Jenna to question more and more about her past and exactly how she came to survive such a serious accident. The information Jenna gathers doesn't make her more comfortable; instead she learns that her loving parents may have taken things a bit too far. Her continued existence seems to be the result of scientific research that has been pushed beyond the limits of most accepted ethical standards. Is what her parents decided something she can live with and for how long?

THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX takes a look into the future. Many things are already possible today, and the future is sure to create even more medical breakthroughs that will bring into question medical ethics. How much will science be able to do to preserve life and how much is too much? Author Mary E. Pearson has created a book that will have readers thinking about where the line should be drawn.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

BOX OUT by John Coy

Liam Bergstrom is one lucky sophomore. The varsity coach is bringing him up from JV to rebound for the varsity. Another player's bad luck (an injury) has become good luck for Liam.
When he starts practicing with the varsity, he gives it everything he has. He wants to make his mark on the team because of his ability, not just because of his height. The coach seems impressed, and Liam spends a fair amount of time off the bench and right in the middle of the action.

Unfortunately, there is one thing about he varsity team that kind of surprises Liam, and to be honest, disappoints him. Before each game and at half-time, the team is required to pray. Coach asks a player to lead the team in prayer, and even though Liam is a practicing Catholic who believes in God and prayer, he feels uncomfortable. In addition to the game prayers, Liam discovers that the team members are expected to attend the HAF (Horizon Athletic Fellowship) meetings as well.

When Liam begins to question the legality of praying at school, several of the players tell him it's just the cost of being part of the team. Liam doesn't like the fact that not everyone on the team may follow Christian beliefs, and he feels hypocritical when he just pretends to participate. When he finally decides to ask the coach about the situation, he gets an answer he later learns was a lie. Having his coach lie to him and then expect him to do something as personal as pray, makes Liam take the issue to the next level.

Bringing the question of separation of church and state to the attention of people beyond the team, stirs up things with his teammates and even the school principal. Liam finds out that asking questions and then standing up for what you believe in is not always the easiest road to take. Liam learns that sacrifices are hard and often costly.

BOX OUT is an excellent book. It provides plenty of play-by-play basketball action, plenty of teenage anxiety involving school, parents, and romantic issues, as well as plenty of possible discussion topics for teens and adults. It is well worth reading.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Check out this contest. The winner will get three terrific books. Enter by July 15th!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


For anyone who has experienced the thrill of small town, dirt track racing, SATURDAY NIGHT DIRT is one you won’t want to miss. Even if you aren’t a race fan, you’ll enjoy the fast-paced, intense drama. There’s dust in the air, colorful characters racing their cars around the track, and enough mystery and intrigue to keep even non-racing fans on the edge of their seats.

Set at Headwaters Speedway in Minnesota, SATURDAY NIGHT DIRT features Mel Walters and her father, Johnny Walters, struggling to keep their little race track in business. Johnny, once a driver himself, is now confined to a wheelchair after a tragic accident years ago. Mel’s mother needed only a few short weeks to determine she couldn’t stay married to a man in a wheelchair, so Mel and her dad have been on their own for quite some time.

Still in high school, Mel acts as track manager, and she is probably the sole reason for the track’s continued success. The story begins and ends on one Saturday. Because of Mel’s drive and determination, it’s a Saturday that makes history for the track and just might breathe some new life into it.

Readers will meet young racers Trace, Amber, and Beau, hoping to make their mark on the racing circuit. Patrick handles parking for the fans and sings the national anthem before the night’s racing begins. Maurice is a retired navy man who handles the signal flags like a pro. There are also the down and out racers like Sonny from the local reservation who lack the funds to really be taken seriously by the other competitors. Even the ever present threat of bad weather becomes a player in the non-stop action at the track. Each plays a part in the Saturday night excitement and helps make the story a real page-turner.

SATURDAY NIGHT DIRT is billed on the cover as “A Motor Novel.” Hopefully, that means it is the first with many more races to come.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KISSER is a fast-paced and funny book. Imagine how life might change if you were cleaning under your mother's bed and discovered her stash of steamy romance novels and her latest self-help book. That is just what happens to Evangeline Logan.
Evangeline can sort of understand the presence of this collection of reading material since her father recently divorced her mother in favor of another love interest. Normally Evangeline wouldn't be interested in reading trashy novels, but one caught her eye and promptly changed her life. Now Evangeline is in search of "the crimson kiss." The way it is so romantically described, she knows her life will not be complete until she experiences it.

The problem begins when Evangeline begins feeling the need to kiss everyone. The fascination with finding this wonderful kiss leads her into some pretty horrible kissing situations. There are kisses with way too much pressure, kisses with more than enough moisture, and kisses that totally miss their mark. When she mistakenly kisses her best friend's crush, she realizes that things are terribly out of control.

Wendelin Van Draanen, author of SWEAR TO HOWDY and FLIPPED, will have readers laughing aloud when they read about Evangeline. But CONFESSIONS OF A SERIAL KISSER goes farther than kissing and telling; it offers a serious side as Evangeline learns how to handle what life has thrown at her.


First THE HUMMING OF NUMBERS - an unusual book set in the 10th century. Aidan is a novice monk living in a Celtic abbey. He possesses a unique talent - he associates everyone he meets with a number. Most of those he knows are threes or some lower number. The highest number he has ever known is a ten, that is until he meets Lana, the illegitimate daughter of a local lord. When he meets Lana, she hums the number eleven loud and clear. This humming is like an aura only Aidan detects. The numbers help him determine each person's character and whether or not they can be trusted.

Although it is totally against abbey rules, Aidan is attracted to Lana and not just because she is an eleven. She is also attractive and very mysterious. When he is given the task to give her guidance and teach her the rules of the abbey, he is sure it is a test of his devotion to his faith.
Soon the two find themselves joining forces to save the lives of those around them. Raiders have come to pillage and destroy the area villages, and it will take someone special to save those who are left behind.

THE HUMMING OF NUMBERS is not a particularly fast-paced book, but it does take readers into another time and place. It gives readers a peek into the world as it once was.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

SCHOOL'S OUT - My students' excellent summer reading suggestions ...

When asked for their summer reading suggestions, my students came up with the following list. It's pretty impressive if I don't say so myself.

CATALYST by Laurie Halse Anderson
THE TAKER by J. M. Steele
LUSH, PERFECT, and BOUNCE all three by Natasha Friend
MIRACLE WIMP by Erik P. Kraft
FREAK SHOW by James St. James
SWEEP SERIES by Cate Tiernan
TWILIGHT SERIES by Stephenie Meyer
BURIED by Robin Merrow MacCready
THE LAST SHOT by John Feinstein
BOYS THAT BITE by Mari Mancusi
OUT OF ORDER by A. M. Jenkins
SHUG by Jenny Han
I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME by Lisa Schroeder
CHEATED by Patrick Jones
THE GOSSIP GIRLS SERIES by Cecily Von Ziegesar
PANTS ON FIRE by Meg Cabot